Classic movie report: July 2015

A film clip by the museum's co-founder, running on an old-style projector.

A film clip by the co-founder of the Third Man Museum in Vienna, running on an old-style projector.

I declared as one of my New Year’s resolutions that I would watch more classic old movies, so each month I’m devoting an entry to how I’m doing with it. This month’s selections have a distinctly Austrian flavor to them, inspired by a week-long visit to Vienna this month to participate in a conference on law and mental health.

The Third Man (1949) (4 stars out of 4)

This is widely recognized as one of the all-time best movies, a story set in postwar Vienna, with Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard, and Alida Valli in starring roles. IMDb neatly sums up the plot without giving anything away:

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime.

The other star is Vienna itself, largely shorn of its glorious beauty and instead portrayed as city of intrigue and recovery in the years following the Second World War.

My first sightseeing visit in Vienna was not to an art museum or classical music venue, but rather the small Third Man Museum, dedicated to the movie and life in postwar Vienna. It was time very well spent. Here are some photos from the museum:

Still shots and memorabilia from the movie.

Still shots and memorabilia from the movie.

If you know the movie, you know what this is about!

If you know the movie, then you know what this is about!

Wonderful zither concert by Viennese musician Cornelia Mayer…again, if you know the movie, you know this instrument!

Wonderful zither concert by Viennese musician Cornelia Mayer…again, if you know the movie, then you know this instrument!

The Sound of Music (1965) (4 stars)

This beloved, iconic movie musical, set in pre-war Salzburg, is about as wide a contrast from The Third Man‘s depiction of Austria as one could imagine. Starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the renowned classic is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its release. In addition to offering songs that are firmly embedded in our popular culture, the film makes maximum use of the beauties of Salzburg.

Back in 1981, after finishing a semester abroad program in England, I made a quick tour of the European continent, and Salzburg was one of my stops. Even though at the time I had never seen the movie, I allowed myself to get dragged onto The Sound of Music bus tour by one of my traveling companions. While she was thrilled at every recognizable location from the movie, I just kept taking pictures, figuring that someday I’d watch the movie and then flip back to my photos to compare. I’m glad I did.

Here are some of those old snapshots.

Top: The famous gazebo. Bottom: The road where the Von Trapp kids are up in the trees.

Top: The famous gazebo. Bottom: The road where the Von Trapp kids are up in the trees.

Top: The Von Trapp family home. Bottom: The cemetery where they're hiding.

Top: The Von Trapp family home. Bottom: The cemetery in the abbey.

***

Photos: Third Man Museum (DY, 2015); Salzburg (DY, 1981).

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